An RWT dental promoter has received a national award for her services to vulnerable members of the community.
Caroline Bestwick, Oral Health Promoter of Wolverhampton Special Care Dental Service based at Pennfields Medical Centre, said she was motivated to help vulnerable people as they are often embarrassed to go to the dentist or ashamed of their dental problems.
She works with homeless people and signposts them to the dental drop-in which takes place every Thursday afternoon at Pennfields Medical Centre where they can seek advice and chat to someone about any dental health issues.
She said she was ‘shocked and delighted’ to receive the award for her services after being nominated by a colleague, as she went up against large groups of oral health promotion teams at the Dental Awards.
She said: “Some of our patients have chaotic lives and it’s about establishing that regular service where they know they will be able to see the same faces each week.
“We work with vulnerable local people using services such as P3, soup kitchens or The Hub.
“Those who have had substance or alcohol problems may have complex dental problems and feel embarrassed about the way they look.
“It’s our job to make sure they can address them in a non-judgemental space and help them to overcome their issues so they can move on in their lives and get back into society.
“As well as vulnerable homeless people, I also work with other groups who can’t access high street dentists – for instance with young children who have dental problems because of lack of education and refugees.
“We also offer our service to Warm Welcome group which is a support group for sex workers. These women are able to come along to the sessions and access a range of services, as well as open up and speak to someone. “These people are from difficult backgrounds and may be addicted to drugs.
“When I walk into the waiting room on a Thursday afternoon and see people I have engaged with in the community that are coming along to the drop in clinic, who were either previously scared to do so or were unsure where they could obtain dental services, I feel I am making a difference.
“When people are vulnerable or have medical issues their dental priorities can, understandably, be quite low and we provide a service which they can access without feeling judged or inadequate and provide support during dental treatment.”
Helen Esslemont, Business Manager at Pennfields Medical Centre, said: “Caroline is deserving of this national award and it pleases me to see her get this recognition.
“She demonstrates high levels of care, commitment and dedication to improving the oral health outcomes of the most hard to reach and vulnerable groups in our community. “Caroline’s work continues – since this award, she has expanded access to dental services to these patients by tirelessly promoting the new drop-in clinic. Well done Caroline – we are very proud of you!”